The relationship between calcium and magnesium in our bodies is complicated. They work together in many functions, such as regulating heartbeat, muscle tone and contraction, and nerve conduction. Magnesium is actually the key to the body’s proper absorption and use of calcium, as well as other important nutrients. If we consume too much calcium, without sufficient magnesium, the excess calcium is not utilized correctly and may actually become toxic, causing painful conditions in the body.
Many researchers and nutritionists now believe magnesium is more important than calcium in order to maintain healthy bones. In addition, magnesium is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions, all of them necessary for optimum health. Magnesium plays a vital role in digestion, energy production, muscle contraction and relaxation, bone formation and cell division. In addition, magnesium is a key nutrient in the proper functioning of the heart, the kidneys, the adrenals and the entire nervous system.
Stress Robs Your Body of Magnesium
If you’re like most people, when you’re under stress, you get cranky, irritable, tired and find it hard to focus. Your blood pressure may increase as the level of adrenalin, a stress hormone, increases in your blood. During stressful times, magnesium is released from your blood cells and goes into the blood plasma, and is then excreted into the urine. Chronic stress depletes your body’s supply of magnesium. The more stressed you are, the greater the loss of magnesium. If your magnesium levels are already low, the more reactive to stress you become and the higher your level of adrenalin in stressful situations. Higher adrenalin causes greater loss of magnesium from cells, becoming a vicious cycle.
Depleted Magnesium = Increased Heart Disease Risk
Magnesium is also essential to heart health. Studies suggest a possible association between a lower risk of congestive heart failure and increased magnesium intake. In one study of women, higher dietary intakes of magnesium were associated with a lower risk of sudden cardiac death. Magnesium helps maintain a normal heart rhythm and is sometimes given intravenously in the hospital to reduce the chance of atrial fibrillation and irregular heartbeat. Having enough magnesium could mean the difference between life and death.